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Pat Summitt to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

April 19, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • Pat Summitt, who announced her retirement Wednesday from coaching women's basketball at the University of Tennessee, will be awarded with the medal later this year.
Pat Summitt, who announced her retirement Wednesday from coaching women's… (Saul Young / Knoxville News…)

WASHINGTON – Pat Summitt, the former head coach of the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Thursday.

Summitt, the winningest coach in basketball history, announced her retirement Wednesday after coaching the Lady Volunteers for 38 years. Summitt was diagnosed less than a year ago with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

President Obama, an avid basketball fan, called Summitt an “inspiration.” He praised her willingness to speak openly about her disease and her coaching skills.

“Pat’s gift has always been her ability to push those around her to new heights, and over the last 38 years, her unique approach has resulted in both unparalleled success on the court and unrivaled loyalty from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched,” Obama said in a statement.  “Pat’s coaching career may be over, but I’m confident that her work is far from finished. I look forward to awarding her this honor.”

Summitt was told of the honor last week, the White House said, and she will receive the medal, along with other honorees, later this year.

The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. It is presented annually to people who have made exceptional contributions “to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” the White House said.

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Original source: Pat Summitt to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

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